Why Viggo Mortensen Chose A Different Acting Path After Lord Of The Rings

If you are a fan of Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, then you are most likely either Team Aragorn or Team Legolas (hardcore Aragorn girl here, for the record). Both men are equally impressive throughout all three films. When Legolas swings his way up onto a moving horse? Whew! But if we're going to be completely honest, Aragorn is the true king of the franchise. Yes, I am extremely biased. But also he is, quite literally, the King.

Played by Viggo Mortensen, Aragorn embodies everything that is cool about Middle-earth. He's a rough-and-tumble orc slayer, but he also has a sweet, gentle side that makes you want to lay down with him under a beautiful bough of trees in Lothlórien as he whispers sweet nothings into your ear (in Elvish, of course). He is, in many ways, the ideal medieval man, able to ride horses well and summon dead armies to help him fight, begging the question, "What more could you really ask for?" 

Aragorn's appeal throughout "The Lord of the Rings" had the potential to launch Viggo Mortensen down a path filled with nothing but major blockbuster roles for years after. Many people would not have had a problem with that, but when you look at Mortensen's filmography in the years following the release of "The Return of the King," major blockbuster roles are largely absent. Instead, Mortensen chose films that didn't have the same blockbuster appeal as "The Lord of the Rings." When asked about how he managed to shape his career after the huge success of "The Lord of the Rings," it turns out the answer comes down to one single thing: commitment.  

Like a king loyal to his throne

Just like Aragorn and Arwen are steadfastly committed to one another, even if it means they will be waiting for a very long time before they can be reunited, Viggo Mortensen is committed to the roles he feels most passionate about taking. In an interview for Salon, he discussed his approach to taking on new projects. Mortensen said, "It's first and foremost about the material. Stories that I read and think, "Well, that's a blueprint for a movie I'd go see," which is, in the end, that's the only thing I can count on." For Mortensen, it's not just about jumping onto the bandwagon of the next big Hollywood success, but rather taking on roles that he feels a connection to or finds interesting. 

The actor also explained how his "Lord of the Rings" fame influenced his ability to secure roles, allowing him the opportunity to make a mix of big blockbusters as well as smaller projects. But his commitment to lower profile, non-blockbusters has often prevented him from doing so. Mortensen said:

"Even if it takes two years or three years [...], I stay with it," he says about choosing to remain with already accepted projects even if offered a bigger, higher paying role. I'm kind of stubborn in that regard, I just stay with it. So I have missed the chance to be in some big things, just because I wasn't available, because I had committed to something." 

I must say, his loyalty to these passion projects, even if they're significantly lower-paying than some of the other roles he could have taken, is impressive. It's a very Aragorn-like trait to have, which is maybe why he channeled that role so well all those years ago. Like a king loyal to his throne, when it comes to staying true to his passions, Mortensen is a man you can always count on.